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How Long Does a Mortgage Application Take?

Written by Reviewed by Emma Lunn

19th Feb 2020 (Last updated on 23rd Oct 2020) 8 minute read

The average time it takes for a mortgage application to be processed in the UK is between 18 to 40 days. With dozens of different lenders, mortgage products and different circumstances for each home buyer, there is no exact time frame for how long your mortgage will take from application to acceptance. 

Compare My Move works with property and financial experts to bring you the most up to date information on obtaining a mortgage. This guide covers the mortgage application process step-by-step so that you’re prepared to begin the house buying process.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Covid-19 and Getting a Mortgage
  2. How Does the Mortgage Application Process Work?
  3. Reviewing Your Finances and Credit Score
  4. How Long Does It Take to Get An Agreement in Principle?
  5. How Long Does the Valuation Process Take?
  6. How Long Does the Underwriting Process Take?
  7. How To Speed Up Your Mortgage Application
  8. How Long Is a Mortgage Offer Valid For?
  9. Save on Your Home Purchase with Compare My Move

Covid-19 and Getting a Mortgage

As a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the housing market, many lenders have made changes to their mortgages products. There are reports of mortgage lenders no longer offering 95% mortgages. This means buyers will have to provide at least 10% deposit for a property, with some lenders requesting a minimum 15% deposit. 

In light of these changes, ensure that you thoroughly research lenders and mortgage products prior to submitting an application. If you are concerned that these changes may impact you, either talk directly with the lender or enlist the services of a mortgage broker who can find the best product for your circumstances.

How Does the Mortgage Application Process Work?

Before you start looking for a property to buy and applying for a mortgage, you’ll need to know how the process works. This includes understanding your own budget, choosing the right lender for you and knowing what you need to prepare.

The more organised you are and the quicker you can get paperwork and payments done on your end, the quicker the overall application will be. Below we’ve listed how to process works and how you can be fully prepared to apply for a mortgage.

1. Work Out Your Budget

Before looking at houses and starting the mortgage application you’ll need to work out your budget. This will depend on how much you can afford to pay in mortgage payments each month, and how much you’ll be able to borrow as a mortgage. This will also depend on how much deposit you are able to pay upfront. 

2. Find a Mortgage Broker 

Although this is not an essential step, there are a number of advantages to hiring a mortgage broker. With thousands of mortgage products on the market at any point in time, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. An independent broker or adviser can save you time and money by searching the market for the best mortgage for your circumstances. 

3. Decide on a Mortgage Lender 

If you decide not to use a mortgage broker, you will need to research various lenders yourself. You are in no way obliged to take out a mortgage with the establishment you currently bank with, although this can be a popular option for some budding buyers.

4. Get a Mortgage Agreement in Principle 

A mortgage agreement in principle is a quick and easy way to find out how much a particular lender might lend you to buy a property. You can apply for a mortgage in principle with a bank, building society or through a mortgage broker. An agreement in principle will indicate to sellers and estate agents that you are serious about buying a property.

5. Prepare for the Formal Mortgage Application

An Agreement in Principle is not a formal mortgage offer and does not guarantee you a mortgage. You will need to submit a formal mortgage application after being granted an AIP by a lender. Just as with the AIP, you’ll need to provide details of your income and outgoings for your mortgage application. You will also need to provide details of the property you are looking to buy. The lender will use the information you provide to carry out an affordability assessment.

6. Property Valuation

The property valuation is a key part of the application process and many mortgage lenders will require a valuation to be conducted on the house. This will reassure the lender that the house is worth the purchase price and ultimately, the amount they are lending. 

7. The Underwriting Process

After receiving your official mortgage application, your lender‘s underwriting team will review all documents supplied. They will take into account your income, all outgoings and financial commitments and how much deposit you’re putting down. Once a decision has been made, you will be supplied with a formal mortgage offer. 

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Reviewing Your Finances and Credit Score

Your credit score can be affected by a number of factors, some of which may come as a surprise to you, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. The amount you have moved in recent years can lower your credit score, whilst being on the electoral register can boost your score.

Having a credit card which is used responsibly and paid off in full can also contribute to a positive credit score. This shows that you can and will pay back what you owe and that you handle money responsibly. This will set you in good stead for achieving the credit score you need for a mortgage. However, a credit card which is left unused can count against you.

Furthermore, large amounts of debt or a payday loan taken out in the last few years will also count against you.

How Long Does It Take to Get An Agreement in Principle?

An Agreement in Principle (AIP) can be obtained on the same day you apply for it, providing it is successful. During the first meeting with your chosen mortgage lender, they can provide you with an AIP, giving you an idea of how much you can borrow. 

At this time, the lender will want details of your finances (including your credit score) and your employment, such as how long you've been at your current role and evidence of payslips. They may require further information on your employment if you are not working 'regular' hours and terms, such as those looking to get a mortgage on a zero-hour contract. This will also be the case if you are self-employed. 

Banks such as Halifax will be able to provide an AIP with no charge and no obligation to apply for a mortgage with them. According to their website, this takes just 15 minutes. Barclays will allow you to apply for an AIP online, without affecting your credit score and again, without obligation to choose them as your mortgage lender. 

It’s important to note that:

  • A mortgage agreement in principle is not a formal mortgage offer and does not guarantee a mortgage. The lender has no obligation to honour an agreement in principle and can refuse you a mortgage if your circumstances change. 
  • Once you have your agreement, you will usually have six months to apply for a mortgage with your chosen lender. After that, you will need to reapply for an AIP.

How Long Does the Valuation Process Take?

The time it takes for the valuation process to be completed will vary from lender to lender but it will typically happen within two weeks. 

The valuation will be carried out by a surveyor chosen by the lender. Although some may offer it free of charge, the average cost stands at £300-£400. As a result of the valuation, they may need further assurance of the value and condition of the property, such as damp survey if signs of damp are found. 

Issues like this can delay the process whilst you source a specialist to carry out an independent survey and return it to the lender for approval.

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How Long Does the Underwriting Process Take?

The underwriting process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete. Upon receiving your application, your chosen mortgage lender‘s underwriting team will review your income, financial commitments, outgoings and how much deposit you’re putting down. 

This is Money found that there are almost ten times more mortgage products available to borrowers who have a 10% deposit as opposed to a 5% deposit. This can increase your chances of getting approved quicker, with many lenders preferring to over 90% mortgages. 

Financial commitments and outgoings will be considered as a marker for how much you spend on average. This gives the lender an indication, alongside your income, of your relationship with money and whether you will be comfortable able to make your mortgage repayments. The more information you can provide upfront, the quicker the process will be. 

How To Speed Up Your Mortgage Application

As mentioned above, being as prepared as possible and providing as much information as possible, such as bank statements and wage slips, will help speed up the mortgage application process.

To prepare for a mortgage interview with your lender, it would be worth checking your credit score on a site like Experian.

Reviewing your credit score beforehand allows you to see where you stand and how you can improve your score prior to your official application. As we’ve mentioned, it could be something as simple as being on the electoral register. 

Some homebuyers will opt to use a mortgage broker for their mortgage application, which can sometimes speed up the process. However, your own bank will already have an idea of your financial history, which can also save time. 

How Long Is a Mortgage Offer Valid For?

Most mortgage offers are normally valid for 6 months, to account how long it takes to buy a house, from offer to completion. The property purchase must be completed during the time the mortgage offer is valid.

In the event your offer expires, most bank and building societies will let you renew your offer, understanding that a property purchase can often be lengthy and complex. However, it’s strongly advised that you reapply swiftly as there is no legal obligation to extend the term of the offer.

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Compare My Move will help you at every stage of your house purchase. From comparing conveyancers, hiring a chartered surveyor and helping you find a removal company, we’ll be there for you. Compare your move with us and save up to 70% on the costs.

Adele MacGregor

Having written for PerformanceIN, WalesOnline, Grazia Magazine and The Olive Press, Adele now writes advice articles for home movers, first-time buyers and house sellers alike.

Emma Lunn

Reviewed by Emma Lunn

Freelance Personal Finance Journalist,

Emma Lunn is an award-winning journalist who specialises in personal finance, consumer issues and property.